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Liner alliances up in the air as MSC and Maersk give separation notice

Liner shipping is ready for an immense scrap as it braces for a downturn with the fabric of its alliance structure now under severe strain.

Maersk and Mediterranean Shipping Co (MSC), the world’s two largest containerlines, have confirmed widespread rumours, announcing today they have mutually agreed to terminate, effective January 2025, the 2M alliance, one of the three major global groupings on the main east-west trades.

In a joint statement, Vincent Clerc, the new CEO of A. P. Moller – Maersk, and Soren Toft, MSC’s CEO, said: “MSC and Maersk recognise that much has changed since the two companies signed the 10-year agreement in 2015. Discontinuing the 2M alliance paves the way for both companies to continue to pursue their individual strategies.”

Both liners enjoy fleets in excess of 4m teu, far larger than their rivals, with MSC on track to have a fleet in excess of 5m teu soon.

Commenting via LinkedIn, former Maersk employee, Lars Jensen, who now heads up consultancy Vespucci Maritime, suggested today’s news is only the beginning of a re-shaping of the alliance constellations on the major east-west trades.

“This will change the competitive dynamics on the major east-west trades for all major carriers, and clearly all carriers will take a close look at which threats and opportunities this will bring forth,” Jensen wrote, saying today’s joint announcement from Copenhagen and Geneva should be seen as the “first domino” of many to fall over in the next couple of years.

Credit Splash247 Sam Chambers

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